Abstract

A close reading of The Merchant of Venice within the micropolitics of its immediate historical moment shows that the play originates as an antiracist response to the hanging of Rodrigo Lopez in 1594. By shadowing the representation of Shylock's Jewishness with the depiction of Antonio's paradoxical ethnic, sexual and religious identity as a "Machiavellian merchant," Shakespeare offers a critique of the essentializing operation that produces stereotypes. The symmetry between Antonio and Shylock reflects a repetitive historical process: The production of the irredeemably perverse "homosexual" was anticipated by the imposition of the concept of blood purity on early modern Jewish converts to Christianity.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6547
Print ISSN
0013-8304
Pages
pp. 375-397
Launched on MUSE
2003-06-18
Open Access
No
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